WARNINGS have been issued about a dangerous plant which cause severe burns and lead to blindness.

Giant hogweed usually grows near waterways, such as rivers and canals, and has been spotted along the River Derwent, near Kirkham Abbey.

The plant takes up to two years to grow to about 18 foot tall, with each plant spreading up to 100,000 seeds, making it an extremely invasive.

Contact with the giant hogweed can cause severe burns and blisters, which are extremely sensitive to the sun for years, and can cause blindness if it comes into contact with eyes.

The recent hot weather has created ideal conditions for hogweed to grow across Britain – with lockdown making it increasingly difficult to keep under control.

Heather Williams, from Malton, said she had come across giant hogweed as she walked along the river bank westwards from the bridge at Kirkham Abbey using the public footpath.

“I was very close to the public footpath and occasionally borders it,” she said.

“If the sap gets onto skin which is exposed to sunlight it causes very nasty burns.”

Heather added: “It looks superficially like ‘normal’ hogweed, but it is much bigger and the stems appear to be covered in small thorns.

“When people are trying to maintain social distancing on this narrow path there is a real chance that they may inadvertently touch it.

“Curious children may also be tempted to touch such an impressive plant.”

Vanessa Barlow, living landscapes assistant - River Derwent- for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, said: “My colleague treated this stretch last week for giant hogweed. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the pesticide to take effect, from the yellowing of the leaves these plants were likely treated. I will double check this section to ensure that no plants were missed.”

For more facts about giant hogweed, visit woodlandtrust.org.uk